Joe Blogs

Teardown: Steering head bearings



With some advice from the folks on the LTD forum, I gave the top of the stem a sharp rap with a hammer and piece of wood and the stem dropped out, leaving the upper bearing behind, which then lifted out. Both races show some pitting, which looks bad but I can only just feel them with a finger tip. However, the Haynes manual says:

If even the slightest amount of wear or damage is evident, the races should be replaced with new ones

Bearings seem to be readily available for non-crazy money, but I’m struggling to locate races. More questions!

Update: found a full set of bearings, seals and races…in the US. Think I shall be taking advantage of my executive courier in August :-)

Further progress, removed the centre stand with a lot of heat and wrestling. Something peculiar had been done to it on one side. If I want to re-use it, it will need a lot of cleaning up, possibly welding. Also removed the helmet locks and side stand switch, which all had to be drilled out. I just need to drift out the races and double-check for any remaining bushes etc to be able to start cleaning it up for painting/coating. It’s been suggested I get a bunch of bolts and thread them in wherever there are thread in the frame, to keep out the grit and powder to avoid having to clean them out. Makes sense.


Pitted races

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Teardown: Various mounts, footpegs and triple tree


A bit more progress, removing various rubber bushes and mounts from the frame, the footpegs and beginning on the triple tree etc. Ran into some stuck fasteners on the helmet locks and the centre stand. Will have to try heat, having applied penetrating oil.

Panel mounts?

Panel mounts?

Panel mounts?

Panel mounts?

Tank mount

Tank mount

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Also made some progress on the steering head, but got stuck on the upper bearing, which doesn’t seem to bear much relation to the images in the Haynes manual.

It makes it sound so easy:

Remove the stem locknut. Using an adjustable spanner wrench, remove the stem adjusting nut while supporting the steering head from the bottom. Lift off the race cover and upper bearing (see illustration).

Hah! Got as far as removing the race cover (I think), then found a rubbery washer thing over the bearings and can’t make them budge at all. There seems to be a separare silvery metal band which doesn’t seem to want to shift at all. I don’t want to break anything, so have taken a break to think (and ask the folks on the forum)

Upper bearing

Upper bearing

Upper Bearing

Upper Bearing

Upper Bearing

Upper Bearing

Race cover, adjusting nut, locknut

Race cover, adjusting nut, locknut


The Haynes Manual makes it sound so easy!

The Haynes Manual makes it sound so easy!

Teardown: Loom removal


Spent half an hour down in the shed working on getting the loom off. In the process, finished removing last bits of the cooling system, remnants of the rear mudguard and the battery box. Bit concerned about how few of the connectors I’ve labelled, and really wishing I’d been more thorough. Was clearly a bit gung-ho about disconnecting them. Oh well. I think my plan of reconnecting everything on a board has merit, if only to get a better idea of where things go first.


Radiator filler with electrical connections. Note ground wires.


Same again


Radiator filler cap and connections


Connectors for side stand (now labelled on the loom)


Connectors for side stand sensor


Ground wire on side of battery box, attached to the negative battery connector


Ground wire on battery box, screw also retains battery box to frame.


Bits attached to the side of the battery box. What are they?

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LTD project update – thoughts and ramblings


During my downtime, I’ve been obsessively reading the excellent forum dedicated to this bike at and found that the problems with the electrics I was having may have simply been a bad ignition switch. It’s also possible that the running issues were down to bad valve clearances, as this engine appears to like to have those adjusted rather frequently (every 5-6000 miles)

Still, photos should make it apparent that the poor thing was well overdue some TLC and I’m hoping that I can do it justice. It will be a great learning experience for me and a good father/son experience and learning opportunity for Oscar. I’m doing most of the nasty taking apart on my own for the time being, and will get Oscar more involved when there’s less chance of stuck fasteners and frustration.

To get my head around the electrics, I have a plan of fixing the whole loom to a wooden board as if it were on the bike, and re-connecting all the electical components to it, and maybe even the engine to see if it will run off the bike where access to the various bits will be easier. Might be a pipedream, and I don’t know what would happen with the ground/earth wires, for example, but it might be worth a try.

I have contacted a local grit blaster and powder coater and discovered that the cost of blasting and coating bits aren’t as bad as I had imagined. I think we’ll strip the frame and do some basic cleanup first, to ensure that there are no cracks or other nasty surprises, but will probably drop it in there eventually to be finished up and coated. We’ll do the tank ourselves with a rattle can (proper prep and a 2-part clear coat), I think, as it’s easier to manage than tubing is, and can easily come off and be re-done at a later date. I only intend to do the frame once :-)

I also found somewhere not too far off that does vapour cleaning of various bits (engine, carbs) – and I’m considering whether to do that. Maybe the carbs, and just paint the engine, not sure yet.

I’m not decided yet on whether to modify the bike, or just clean it up and put it back together and hope it runs. I really like the modifications done here:

and, because I like the solo look, but feel it would be unfair not to have the option of a pillion for Oscar if he’s been involved in building it,  I like the fact that it enables the possibility of using either a solo seat or putting back the original seat with pillion:

Solo seat from Suzuki LS650


Original seat

Teardown: starting on the front end


A bit of a hiatus for the last few weeks as I have been in hospital and then laid up post-surgery after getting a nasty appendicitis. Took advantage of increased mobility and a bit of free time to do a little light wrenching (literally, most of the fasteners gave up without any real effort on my part, result!) and started taking off some of the remaining bits attached to the frame. I figured I’d start with the front end as that’s mostly what’s keeping the loom from being removed. Took off the indicator brackets, rectifier, “dashboard” and ignition and the assembly with the horn and fusebox off, freeing up the loom at the front. The pictures are mostly for my own reference, as I realised I’ve not been taking as many as I ought to and there are a few dangly bits I can’t remember where they came from (notably what I think is an earth/ground, the other end of which I don’t know where it attached!). Should make re-assembly fun.

I also mostly drained the fuel tank, finally, and had better take a look at the carbs as I don’t remember whether I drained those adequately. I’ll be cleaning them, anyway, but sitting around with old fuel in won’t be doing them any favours.


Left front indicator


Right front indicator






Horn and fusebox routing


Front end


Front left side


Front left hand side


Front end


Front left


Front left


Foot peg and side stand switch


Right foot rest


Fuel tank fixing and battery box etc


Routing of harness from headlight into frame


Rectifier (?) and coolant reservoir


Right hand side, from top


Front end, inverted


loom/harness under headlight


Ground wire. Note to self, where does the other end attach?


Bottom of triple tree


Top of triple tree

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